The short cut to happiness is but a detour on the road to misery
There are many ways to work the steps. And all of them work, because all of us are different.
Some people tippy-toe up the staircase, treading lightly and pausing only briefly on each step. They take what they need, let go of what they don’t, then move on to the next step. Sometimes these folks are exceptionally receptive and don’t need lots of contemplation; other times, they’re just the opposite, but they’re not able to absorb any more yet.
A few people like to linger, delving deeply into the philosophy of each step and exhaustively applying it to their own history. It may be months or even years before they feel satisfied that they have truly made progress.
Many fall back to earlier steps when a crisis or life change prompts a realization that there is still work to be done. Or their understanding of the step has changed with their new insights and experiences.
Some take a very casual approach to the steps, bouncing from one to the next as the spirit moves them, sometimes with a sponsor but often not, liberally interpreting the meaning of each step to fit their world view. These folks may take time off from step work, sometimes for long stretches, as they experiment with many new ideas and activities.
Yet others become entirely focused upon the program, because they believe that only a complete mental, emotional and spiritual overhaul will save them.
Which approach is right? Each person will say that theirs is, because it works for them. And since trying to convert a casual stepper into a disciplined marcher, or vice versa, rarely works, we believe that all of these approaches are valid.
“We” is City of Angels NJ, Inc., a group of volunteers who help alcoholics and addicts get and stay clean. Since our founding in 2009, we’ve learned a lot about what “works” and what doesn’t. We’ve tried to fit both addicts and their families into neat boxes, prescribing what we thought would fix their problems. We found that one size doesn’t fit all.
So we’ve learned to meet each recoveree where they’re at. Some do very well with 90 meetings in 90 days (so we make sure we have plenty of meetings they can attend), but others don’t. Many like the structure of a traditional program but others want to mix and match, designing their own recovery. After seeing that both approaches can be successful, we now welcome this diversity.
We also encourage recoverees to follow their program, and work the steps, in the way that feels best to them. And while that often results in a mish-mash of styles with some folks riverdancing the steps while others just mosey along, it also keeps more people on the path, so that eventually, we all meet in Rome.
By: City of Angels NJ, Inc.
City of Angels NJ, Inc. is a non-profit organization based in New Jersey that offers a variety of services to the addiction community, all at no charge. In 2012, COA conducted more than 400 interventions and worked with over 600 families. For more information, visit http://cityofangelsnj.org/